Longtime naturalist, conservationist, birder, business and civic leader James Martin Stewart died on April 19 at the age of 87 from complications after a fall.
Born November 29, 1925 in Philadelphia, Stewart, known as Jim, attended Chestnut Hill Academy and graduated from the Avon Old Farms School in 1943. He received his BA in Economics in 1950 from Trinity College, where he was a member of the Trinity Pipes and St. Anthony Hall. He attended the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania.
He joined the U. S. Army Air Corps during World War II and served as a 2nd Lieutenant and navigator in the 7th Emergency Rescue Squadron out of Hickam Field in Oahu, Hawaii. He was employed at SmithKline & French in several capacities, before serving on the Board of Directors at SmithKline Beckman Corporation.
Stewart was a founder, longtime member and former chairman of the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association (WVWA), which honored him in 2010 as a Trailblazer. At WVWA, Stewart was the creator of the Green Ribbon Trail, a 21-mile recreational trail along the Wissahickon Creek. In 1965 he pioneered one of the first conservation fairs. He was also a founder and driving force for the Wissahickon Birdathon, an annual event for birdwatchers.
Stewart served as a board member for numerous schools and conservation organizations including the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia Zoo, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Chestnut Hill Hospital, Nantucket Conservation Foundation, Nantucket Trustees of Reservations, the Hill at Whitemarsh and many other organizations in Philadelphia, Nantucket, Mass. and Stowe, VT.
In his spare time, Stewart was a long time singing member of the Orpheus Club of Philadelphia.
He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Joly Walton Stewart, his sister, Patricia Stewart Walsh, and six children: Lea A. Stewart of Campton, NH, James M. Stewart, Jr. of Ambler, Catherine L. Stewart of Manchester Center, VT, Mahlon K. Stewart of New York, NY, Elizabeth S. Hunter of Ambler, James H. Hunter of Mt. Shasta, CA and 6 grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 27 at 11 a.m. at St. Thomas’ Church, Whitemarsh, Camp Hill Road and Bethlehem Pike, Fort Washington, PA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association at 12 Morris Road, Ambler, PA 19002 or St. Thomas’ Church, Whitemarsh, P.O. Box 247, Fort Washington, PA 19034.